Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guyana moves up Human Development Index

Guyana has moved two points up on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index and has now been ranked as a medium human development country, a report issued on Wednesday said. Guyana is now ranked at 117 out of 187 countries having moved up two points. The UN human development report stated that Guyana’s life expectancy was now approximately 69.9 years, while its gross national income per capita on an international base of 2005 was US$ 3192. The three dimensions upon which the report makes its ranking are health, education and living standards. Four indicators are utilised which are life expectancy at birth, mean of years of schooling, expected years of schooling and gross national income per capita. In an invited comment on the report, Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that there have been dramatic improvements in the quality of life of all Guyanese since 1992. He noted that more investments have been made in the health, education and social sectors when compared to the past administrations. Ramsammy explained that as the report states “ every year there has been an improvement and movement upward in the human development” taking place in the country. He said the manifestations occurring now are the work of focused investments in the country’s devel opments when it first took office, advising that there will be many other positive development recorded in the UN human index over the next few years. “ Now that we are back on the rise, social human development factors are improving and I believe that you will see a more accelerated movement of Guyana upwards in the ranking in years to come,” the health minister noted. “ The philosophical ap proach has changed signifi cantly,” Ramsammy stated, while explaining that now more than 40 per cent of the country’s national budget is dedicated to meeting the needs of the social sector which includes the education, health, justice and other sectors. Ramsammy pointed out that in 1991 less than seven per cent of the country’s budget was investment in the aforementioned sectors.

He also noted that the focus was on trying to get the productive sectors up, while other important sectors were neglected. The minister said that the advancements made in the health sector has spillover effects on all the other related social sectors, noting that the gains made in the country’s life expectancy rates, which have increased by 10 years since the early 1990s, impacts directly on education attainment and standards of living and social development.

Ramsammy said the records are there to show the investment and gains that government has made with respect to charting the course of development, especially human and social development, within Guyana. The report has been released at a time when there has been much criticism from the opposition forces during this elections year that “ nothing has been done to develop the lives of the people of Guyana under the leadership of the PPP/ C administration”. Some 70 countries altogether are ranked behind Guyana with more than 37 of them being ranked as having very poor human development standards. Among those ranked in this category are Haiti, Nepal, Afghanistan, Congo, and Tanzania. Meanwhile, the report also states that Latin American and Caribbean nations are reducing wide income inequalities, while taking steps to confront deforestation and other environmental threats that could slow human development gains in the region. It notes that despite developmental progress in the region, rapid deforestation and other environmental dangers could sideline regional achievements and hamper advancement. The report also called for bold action within and across nations to address climate challenges, such as rising sea levels that will have profound impacts on Caribbean islands and mainland coastal areas. “ The world spotlight will turn on Latin America in June 2012 when the UN Conference on Sustainable Development is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years after the landmark UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in the same city,” a release from the UN noted. The report also notes that several countries have been successful in combating poverty with community- level programmes that provide minimum wages and guarantee social services. “ Such initiatives can be both effective in outcome and cost,” the report said, citing as examples Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Oportunidades programmes that cover about one- fifth of those nations’ populations at a cost of about 0.4 per cent of GDP. The index and study said that the Latin America and Caribbean region is also endowed with untapped renewable energy potential, pointing out that the most notable are solar and wind power.

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